Monday, December 18, 2006

288. Sestina: Vanishing Point - Marilyn Krysl

A city, alive with sleeping people. Awake, the man
feels in his pockets. A roll of film, loose change,
ticket stubs, a book of matches. All he owns
can be quickly summarized. The drift of moonlight
across the dark floor is more to the point
here. Some things don't pin down. The woman

he thought was his is now another woman
in another city. Luminous, she leaves the man
his own flesh, a roll of film. the vanishing point
is that moment when the phone's ringing changes
to silence, and we are vibrant and alone, and moonlight
seems like the only thing that's left worth owning

and we attend its shifting configuration, own it
by our attention. His fist is empty. The woman
is on the move. Like many lovers the moonlight
waxes, illumines her, and wanes, and the man's
heart will beat until it stops. We are a cellchange,
we vanish and reappear, and there's a point

at which you are not who you were. At some point––
but where? she knows no location, only her own
shifting configuration, the play of loose change
in Heisenberg's pocket, nude descending a staircase. A woman
dies but her fingernails grow after death. The man
caught her once, asleep beside a shaft of moonlight

but he moved: the photo's blurred, moonlight
and flesh in slow fog, through their point
of vanishing and gone. There's not a man
on earth or moon can claim to own
white clarity for long. Or was it the woman
dreaming an earthquake, buckling rock changing

the lay of the land? At some point she wakes, changes
cities, names, cuts her hair. Like moonlight
we occur and reoccur. He's not wrong, but the woman
in the photo is dead, the moon's set. What's the point
of trying to buy time? What this man owns
isn't what he needs in the dark. This is the man

who wanted to remember the point at which he fell
asleep. But he's awake, without moonlight or a plan
on his own, on the move, changing like a woman leaving a man.

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